Introduction: Lemon Verbena Marshmallows
I love homemade marshmallows. They're cheap, easy, and can be made just about any flavor (although I don't think I'd recommend garlic).
I forgot to plant the little lemon verbena plant I bought awhile ago and it died, so I bought three more and planted them immediately in our little herb garden. The smell of the crushed leaves is lovely, and it's simple to make an infused sugar syrup to use for all kinds of desserts.
I made these marshmallows for a women's activity I attended recently, because I figured it was too hot for a heavy or rich dessert.
There are tons of marshmallow recipes out there. I don't notice much difference in the resulting taste, even between the recipes with egg whites versus without.
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Step 1: You Will Need
1 1/2 C white sugar
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 C water
1 C clear corn syrup
a couple handfulls fresh lemon verbena leaves
1 pinch salt, optional
1 teaspoon lemon extract or lemon zest, optional
1 teaspoon citric acid, optional (adds a bit of tartness if you want to play up the lemon flavor)
food coloring, optional
pot with a lid
stand mixer with whisk attachment
pan for cooling marshmallow goo
Step 2: Make the Infused Syrup
Rinse the lemon verbena leaves and put them in a pot with the granulated sugar and 1 C water.
Bring to a simmer, stirring every so often to make sure leaves are submerged and sugar is dissolved. After a few minutes, turn off the heat and let the herbs infuse for at least 30 minutes. If desired, pour into a container and refrigerate overnight.
Pour mixture through a strainer into a bowl. You now have lemon verbena syrup.
Step 3: Cook Sugar, Soften Gelatin
Put the gelanin in the mixing bowl of the stand mixer with the remaining 1/2 C water. Stir, then let sit while the gelatin softens, or "blooms."
Heat the lemon verbena syrup in a pot with the corn syrup, stirring. When it comes to a boil, cover it and let it boil for 3 minutes or so. This will allow the collecting steam to drip down the sides of the pot, washing down any sugar crystals.
Remove the lid and cook sugar mixture until it reaches 240 degrees F on an instant read digital candy thermometer.
Step 4: Whip, Whip, Whip
Remove the hot pan of syrup from the stove and turn on the mixer to a low speed with the gelatin in the bowl.
Slowly, carefully, pour a thin stream of hot syrup into the mixer bowl with it running. Be careful. If you pour it directly on the whisk, it'll fling hot syrup at you - not good. If you pour it too high up the sides of the bowl, it might cool and harden there.
There will likely be a ring of stiffening syrup above the line of goo as you're pouring and the mixer is mixing. Don't worry. The heat of the syrup should warm the bowl enough that the rising steam should be able to soften it. Just keep mixing.
After all the syrup is poured in and the mixer is still beating, wait a couple minutes, turn it off, then scrape any remaining softened syrup from the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer back on to high. Lots of people freak out at this point and think their marshmallows failed because they're rubbery and not fluffy. Relax, man. Keep whipping. This might take 10 minutes or more. Every so often, stop the mixer and lift up the whisk to see how thick the goo is getting. If you pour the marshmallow before it's whipped enough, it'll be too dense and have large bubbles near the top.
I added a couple drops of food coloring here to enhance the pale green color. You can also add a pinch of salt, lemon extract or zest, and citric acid if you want to slightly alter the flavor. I do recommend a tiny bit of salt in any marshmallow. Citric acid is great for fruity marshmallows.
Once the marshmallow falls from the whisk in a really thick... um... plop... you're ready to pour it into the pan.
Step 5: Pour, Cool, Cut
Grab your pan and quickly spray it with cooking spray because you forgot to do it earlier.
Use a spatula or large spoon to help scrape the quickly cooling marshmallow mixture into the pan. Try not to get it on much stuff. It's REALLY sticky and messy. Some recipes suggest dusting the pan with powdered sugar or cornstarch, but I don't like the way the sides and bottoms of marshmallows feel if they've been allowed to set on powder. It's not necessary if you use cooking spray, and you'll still dust all the sides of the marshmallows with powdered sugar later.
**If you're making marshmallows at someone else's house and they happen to have a young child nearby (say, age 2-5), hand the marshmallow covered whisk to the child. If you're feeling particularly naughty, hand the empty bowl to the child and watch them try to get the sticky goo from the sides. Make sure to hide before the parent of said child asks you to help clean up the resulting mess.**
Dust the top of the marshmallow with some powdered sugar and let it sit for a couple hours until it cools and firms up. If you're able to easily pull the corner of marshmallow away from the pan (make sure you use lots of powdered sugar on top of the marshmallow and on your hands), it's ready.
Generously sprinkle a cutting board with powdered sugar and turn the marshmallow out of the pan onto it. Cover the newly exposed bottom of marshmallow slab with lots more powdered sugar. You'll want to use an excess here and dust off most of it later. It makes it easier to cut if there's plenty of powder to coat the newly cut edges and prevent them from sticking right away.
Using a long, thin, sharp knife, a pizza wheel, or some other slicing device, cut the slab of marshmallow into strips, dusting each newly cut side immediately with powdered sugar. Once strips are cut, slice the strips into pieces, once again dusting each newly exposed cut side with powdered sugar.
Shake off the excess powdered sugar and put these in a covered container or serve immediately. They should keep at room temperature for about a week, but they tend not to last that long.
Sometimes it's nice to have just a bite of something sweet after a meal instead of a full dessert. Marshmallows can fit the bill nicely. Want a variation on the lemon verbena?
Pink Lemonade Marshmallows variation:
skip the lemon verbena leaves and only use 1/2 C water in with the sugar and corn syrup.
when whipping the plain marshmallow mixture, add:
1 T lemon extract
1 T citric acid
1/2 C strawberry or raspberry puree - strain out the seeds if you like, or leave them in
These will be a lovely pale pink; the citric acid makes the berry puree more red/pink and less blue/purple. You can taste the marshmallow goo and adjust the flavoring and citric acid. Tart marshmallows are really refreshing, and most people won't expect them.
Thanks for reading! Go make some marshmallows.